Stephen Holden on Lea Solonga

June 17, 2011

The NYTimes reviews the eternally-youthful Miss Saignon, now appearing at the Cafe Carlyle:  ”

Ms. Salonga’s bright, metallically edged voice is a shiny all-purpose instrument that confidently establishes its dominion over whatever musical setting surrounds it. Because her accompaniment consists of only piano (Larry Yurman), bass (John Miller) and guitar (Jack Cavari), she isn’t required to belt, which is all to the good in an intimate cabaret setting. And Mr. Yurman’s delicate arrangements provided sensitive support.”

Those good and crazy people…

June 17, 2011

Stephen Sondheim's Company

The lovely Mary Sugar and I saw the limited movie showing of Company last night.  And on the whole — WOW !!!

It’s a stellar cast and I think they do an amazing job of balancing the needs of the scenes with the demands of the music.  And I always say that this score always feels like a necklace with jewel after jewel strung together.

Having seen the show and the material in it any number of times in any number of incarnations, it is inevitable that one is judging every moment against multiple performances.  (And no matter how much I loved Christina Hendricks and Jane Krokowski, I find it hard to believe that anyone will play April in the park scene better than Bernadette Peters).  However, this production gives some new standards to surpass, such as Stephen Colbert finding some interesting physical jokes as Harry, Anika Noni Rose playing Marta as a wide-eyed innocent, and Patti LuPone’s pensive take on Joanne.<img class="alignright" src="; alt="April 7, 2011: Among the other cast members enjoying the dinner are Jill Paice, fresh from her Philharmonic debut as Susan, and Michael Sazonov, her guest.

Photo by John Calabrese” width=”391″ height=”455″ />

Here’s a bit of “impress your friends” trivia: the reason the Tick-Tock number looks so much like A Chorus Line is that Michael Bennett choreographed Company and Donna McKechnie did the number.  In fact, this is the solo that Cassie was refering to in the show. 

And for DC theater fans, Jill Paice who was so good in Chess at Signature was a terrific Susan.  And here is a picture of her at the post-show party with one-time (and hopefully once-again) DC cabaret fixture Michael Sazonov.

Company is playing through the 21st at various locations.


In case you do, too…

June 16, 2011

“Who Wants to be a Millionaire” Begins Auditions for Season Ten Thumbnail


I have to admit that winning some cash on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was a highlight of my year last year (especially being unemployed).

The show is now auditioning in New York for its next season.  If anyone is planning to schedule an audition, please feel free to contact me, I have some really useful tips based on my experiences.

Also, the Buzzer Blog site is really useful for other behind-the-scenes info on game shows.

Ben Brantley on Spiderman

June 15, 2011

I know that the review of Spiderman is off the mark of cabaret, but as a reviewer, I love the eternal quandary those of us who try to deal with ungodly messes so often face: “…  this singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It’s just a bore….So is this ascent from jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity a step upward?”

Become the Signature Idol

June 15, 2011

Signature Theatre Begins Search for the Next ‘Signature Idol’

Competition Part of Annual Open House on July 23rd

Deadline for Video Submissions is July 11th

Arlington, VA, June 14, 2011 – The Tony Award®-winning Signature Theatre is looking for the next ‘Signature Idol,’ with the return of the very popular Signature Idol Competition being held during this year’s annual Target Open House on July 23rd. ‘Signature Idol’ will feature a panel of celebrity judges providing their feedback on the best undiscovered singers in the DC region showing off their stuff in Signature’s MAX Theatre at 3:45pm. Finalists will be chosen by Signature’s artistic staff, based on audition videos submitted by the July 11th deadline. Signature Theatre encourages everyone who likes to show off their golden pipes in the car, at a party, or in the shower to apply.

The winner of the Signature Idol Competition will have the opportunity to perform in the ‘Broadway on the Plaza’ Finale Concert at the Open House. Last year’s winner was Gabriel Lopez who went on to be cast in Signature’s “Page to Stage” presentation of The Greenwood Tree. Signature received over 100 video submissions in 2010 and selected ten finalists to perform.

Eric Schaeffer, Signature’s Artistic Director stated, “After the great success we had with last year’s Signature Idol, and all the fun that we had, there was no way we were not bringing this competition back. It provides a wonderful platform for undiscovered talent in a very safe environment.”

Signature’s Target Open House will celebrate the very best in musical theater, drama, and fun on Saturday, July 23 from noon to 10:00pm. Free and open to the public, this special event is ten hours full of exciting performances, demonstrations, master classes, exhibits, a “concert on the plaza,” and kids’ activities offered throughout the Signature complex and on the Plaza. The entire schedule and list of performers for Signature’s Target Open House will be announced shortly.

Great Song, Terrible Idea — Part I

June 14, 2011

At one point during what you might call a heated discussion, Ron said to me, “One of the main reasons you have a unique ability to regurgitate lyrics is because you’re one of the few people who listen to them in the first place.”  It was a point that I couldn’t argue with.

And one thing that happens when you listen to a lyric is that you actully listen to what a song says.  And it occurs to me that there are a lot of songs I love that give really, really dicey advice when you think about it.  Here’s the first in an occasional series.  (And please, feel free to add your choices in the comments below.)

Make Someone Happy — “Make someone happy and you will be happy, too.”  First of all, there are some people who will never be happy.  So if you’re making your happiness rely on them getting to happy you’re totally wasting your time.  And I can think of a number of occasions where I’ve given a lot of happiness to others and I’ve certainly received satisfaction — but happiness???

Marry the Man Today — “…and change his ways tomorrow.”  This seems like an instant road to divorce court. (BTW, great quote from a NYTimes article about a man taking a family trip to Disney — “…which prove again a useful principle for all couples: don’t try to change each other. Study and subvert each other. “)

Don’t Cry Out Loud — “…just keep it inside and learn how to hide your feelings.”  And then pay for years of therapy.

I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love — Does that mean you’d rather stay when it’s bad?

When In Rome I Do as the Romans Do — FYI, whenever I’m out of town I cheat.  As Dr. Phil might say, “How’s knowin’ that workin’ out for you?”

Stephen Holden on Yanna Avis

June 14, 2011

Yanna Avis is probably #2 or 3 on my list of singers whose recordings I love whom I want to see.  Stephen Holden got to see her at the Metropolitan Room and wrote about it in the NYTimes: “Both Ms. Avis and her show at the Metropolitan Room are throwbacks to a cabaret style that flourished in New York in the 1950s and early ’60s in which traditional glamour and high style were the thing. Nothing must disturb the playfully naughty Folies Bergère spirits in which bittersweet moments are thrown in for contrast. The songs concentrate on appearances and the competitive erotic games indulged in by courtiers in a world of unbounded leisure; the only enemy is boredom.”